Thanks for this guest blog post by Gary Peterson, a member of our board of directors.
Fortunately, we as bikers and Bike Fed members know the many benefits of biking: pure enjoyment, health benefits, scenery, transportation, easy/convenient parking, bonding with friends and family, pet outings, no carbon fuel consumption, no impact on air quality and others you could add to the list. However, I think there is one huge benefit that few if any of us have experienced. That experience is taking an elderly or handicapped person(s) on a bike ride. A person(s) who could first never ride themselves and second take them places not accessible by motor vehicle. There is a program that provides us the opportunity. The program is called, “Cycling without Age.”
“Cycling without Age” was a program founded in Denmark, but is spreading swiftly in the United States. Here in Wisconsin, the Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh launched the first program in the United States and now it has expanded to include a handful of bikes. Another program is soon to open at the Oakwood Village Lutheran Home cycling without age program in Madison, Cycling without Age is a program that permits you to exercise while doing good for others. Imagine taking someone on a bike path away from roads into nature. What a win-win.
The equipment you would use is an electric boost cargo bike (3 wheels) with the in front cargo portion being a rickshaw for two elderly or disabled people. The rickshaw has a roof that can be raised to protect the 2 passengers. It is a slow ride so the driver can be anyone from a teenager to someone elderly like myself.
What could or should the Bike Fed do to promote this program? What should we do is up to you. We could do many things. We could just help spread the word that there is a highly beneficial program available, we can carry the message to anyone interested in a program in their community, we could try to partner with others and expand the program around the state, call for volunteers, etc.
A Bike Fed member could work with a Community Based Residential Facility (CBRF) or nursing home in their community for them to purchase a cycle ($8,000) and the Bike Fed members will provide the drivers. Another option would be to raise the money to buy a cycle(s) to use community wide. Have a service club help raise the money and own the cycles. This could be a desirable fund raising project. Service club and Bike Fed members could be the drivers. The Bike Fed could buy cycles in Milwaukee and Madison to be used in those communities. Maybe a trailer could be included to move bikes some distance. Everyone will need to find storage as you would not want to leave the cycles outdoors.
As the rides are free we do need to find a source of outside continual income.
For funds look for partners like Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Optimist, foundations, houses of worship, businesses, utilities and others seeking a positive image with good publicity.
If you would like more information feel free to email me, Gary Peterson, or call at 608/231-1199.